When drifting for tilefish, boat handling is essential, Hagerich insists, “so a skilled captain greatly contributes to the angler’s success.” Offshore currents can make tilefishing difficult, especially off Hatteras, where the water moves as fast as 4 knots. For proper bait presentation, Hagerich heads into the current slowly, bumping the boat ahead just fast enough to keep the lines vertical, which helps avoid tangles and is also the best way to get bites. Hagerich says tilefish want their meal on the bottom. “They won’t chase a bait. The rig must be right on the bottom to get a bite,” he explains.